by popular demand: khoresh bademjan (persian eggplant stew)

{this one requires quite a bit of time and attention, but it’s well worth it}! i’m sitting here with a big splint on my right forefinger (looking awfully funny typing) thinking of how quickly you can hurt yourself if you’re not careful…i cut my hand yesterday with my (beautiful) japanese knife while washing it-but no hard feelings, i still love it-just be careful with those sharp knives! good news is i had already prepared this post pre cut finger which can’t cook (we’ll be having take out tonight)— let me start by saying that khoresh bademjan is an all time favorite of mine-it’s one of those basic (but oh so good) dishes that are served in iran (mostly at big family lunches) almost weekly in many households. it’s the ultimate-as in super satisfying, beyond delicious, and filling….each and every time. i couldn’t eat eggplants when i was a kid-they made my mouth feel funny, so i had avoided one of my favorite dishes until the age of about twelve, when i (thankfully) discovered it in the late afternoon of a ladies luncheon at our house. my sister and i got home form school tired and famished and found the remains of the feast waiting for us at room temperature-that’s when kb (khoresh bademjan) and i bonded for life. you can make this dish with braised veal (or lamb) shanks, with good (grass fed) stew  beef, with chicken, or without meat as a vegetarian dish. it’s your choice. the meat is cooked separately before it’s combined with the the rest of the components, so if you want to prepare it as a vegetarian dish, just leave it out. when i make this dish, i make extra portions-the leftovers might just be better tasting than the original.

you will need:

  • 1.5 to 2 pounds grass fed organic beef (or veal) for stewing, cubed
  • 2 onions (1 for cooking meat, 1 for the fried onion (piaz dagh)
  • 10-12 eggplants
  • 2-3 tsp turmeric (for beef, and for fried onions)
  • sea salt & pepper (to taste)
  • 3 ripe roma (or other) tomatoes
  • 1 cup (preferably not canned) stewed or strained tomatoes (get them in a jar, or parmalat brand)
  • 1 tsp ground saffron (or a few strands seeped in hot water)
  • 1/4 cup sour grapes (frozen at middle eastern stores) and/or juice of 2 limes
  • about 5-7 tbsp olive, safflower, or grape seed oil
for the (braised) meat:

1.if you are adding beef, lamb, or chicken, start braising it first because you’ll need a good 1.5 hours to cook it properly. look at my braised chicken recipe here and use the same method for braising: fry the thinly sliced onions (with 1 tbsp oil) until slightly golden and softened, add meat, turmeric, salt and pepper, then sear (or brown on all sides) for about 5-8 minutes on high, reduce heat, add very little (1/4 cup) water, and braise (lid on) on med/low for  one and a half hours at least. the meat will need to have a good amount of good thickened juices left after it has cooked for use in the stew, so add water little by little if you have to-if you keep the temperature steady and the lid on it should be fine.

{continued below}

fried onions, or “piaz dagh”:
for persian stews you need fried onions or “piaz dagh”:
2. we often make the fried onions ahead of time in bulk and freeze for use any time we need it. you make “piaz dagh” which translates to hot onion (you can find it in the frozen section of the middle eastern stores in california if you don’t want your whole house to smell like onions!) by frying the thinly sliced onions (often with a touch of turmeric) in several tbsp of hot vegetable oil until golden brown and translucent. remove from oil with a slotted spoon, let the extra oil drain, and set aside on paper towel.
3. you will need to fry the eggplants (i buy italian eggplants that are on the smaller side, fry them whole and peeled with their end caps left on). peel the eggplants, salt them, and let them sweat (and drain) for 1/2 to 1 hour. slowly (on medium heat ) fry them on all sides-i will leave the amount of oil up to you, but typically you need a good amount-lately i’ve been using much less oil and getting away with it, but it’s not as good. ideally, your eggplants should look like the fried ones above.
4. once you have all your components ready you can start putting the stew together. in a deep baking dish, start with a portion of the stewed tomatoes at the bottom, then add your cooked meat (with all the good juices), some fried onions (scattered evenly), a squeeze of lime juice, a touch of your saffron (diluted in a tsp or two of hot water), a touch of salt, then surround the beef with the fried eggplants. add more of the stewed tomatoes, fried onions, the saffron, and another squeeze of lemon juice (about 1 lime total if you have sour grapes-otherwise 2). slice your tomatoes in halves or quarters and add them to the top (skin on top) along with a scattering of sour grapes.
5. i cook mostly by instinct, and i’m trying to share my process with you. you are now ready to bake-or keep it (refrigerated) for baking later (even the next day). cover with foil (or lid) and bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes to an hour. serve with white steamed basmati rice. see my recipe for persian steamed rice -follow the recipe, leaving out all the spices except the saffron. enjoy. we did…
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5 comments on “by popular demand: khoresh bademjan (persian eggplant stew)

  1. Anonymous on said:

    Dear minette
    Sorry that you were a bit injured by a knife and you finished your egg plant stew anyway. I will be cooking it for my family today and I’m sure it will be great entre as usual.
    Take care

    tonight and I’m sure it will be a great entre for my family’s dinner. Take care

  2. thank you! please let me know how it goes. my hand is better-i think it needs another day or two…

  3. Beth Hashemi on said:

    Thank you Mina! I am making your eggplant stew for guests tomorrow. It’s easier to prepare it for the oven on the day – keeping it in the fridge until then. Also have made your Kotolets. I left out the breadcrumbs because they burned! But Hadi is very pleased with the taste of the kotlets. Hope we have enough left for guests! xxBeth

  4. Pingback: one heavenly meal: chelo-kabob {persian style rice with grilled beef kabobs & tomatoes} | Cooking Minette

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